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Washington DC Police Set Up Checkpoints in Violence-Plagued Area

Police in Washington D.C. have set up vehicle checkpoints in a neighborhood plagued by recent gun violence.

Police in the U.S. capital began stopping motorists in the city's Trinidad district Saturday.

The checkpoints were announced after seven people were killed in the city in an overnight crime spree a little over a week ago, including three in the Trinidad area. Already this year, 72 people have been killed in Washington D.C., including 22 in the police district that includes Trinidad.

While manning the checkpoints, police asked for identification and turned away drivers who do not have what authorities consider a "legitimate purpose" to be in the area, such as a church visit or doctor's appointment.

Several civil rights groups criticized the police action.

Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the nation's leading African-American advocacy organization, say the policy was not effective and may threaten residents' civil rights.

About 15 protesters gathered at the intersection where the checkpoints began Saturday evening. The Washington Post reports that some of the activists said Trinidad was unfairly targeted because the area is mostly populated by African-Americans.

The checkpoints will be enforced for at least five days at random hours, and can be extended to 10 days. Officers are to search cars only if they suspect guns or drugs inside. Pedestrians will not be stopped.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.